Former world No. 1 Simona Halep underlined it wasn't easy at all playing against rising Kazak star Elena Rybakina. Halep, now ranked at No. 13 in the world, edged out world No. 20 Rybakina 7-6 (11) 4-6 6-3 to reach the US Open round-of-16.
"Definitely it was a very tough match, I knew before it was going to be very difficult because I played against her before. Elena is powerful and putting pressure on the opponent. I had to be strong, calm and fight at the end because I still have a chance to win”.
Halep said, per Tennishead. “Everyday I am building confidence, it’s difficult to not play a match for four months then play at the highest level against top players but I am enjoying playing in front of a crowd, it’s always a pleasure.
I missed everyone, thank you for coming”.
Halep survived a tricky Rybakina challenge
The first set featured inconsistent play from both sides as Halep twice recovered from a break down but then failed to serve out for the opener in the 12th as Rybakina forced a tie-break.
In the first set tie-break, Halep blew six set points but then saved three set points, before realizing her seventh set point to win an extremely tight opener. Halep recovered from a double break in the second set but lost her serve once again in the ninth game as Rybakina served out for a decider in the 10th game.
After winning the second set, Rybakina started the third set with a break. However, Halep kept her focus and composure as she claimed back-to-back breaks to overturn the deficit and take the lead. Halep then held on to her serve the rest of the way to clinch a three-set win.
Halep plays next against either Elina Svitolina. "I wish to have an easier match but at this level it’s impossible, I am focused and know every day it’s going to be a tough battle so I’m looking forward to giving my best again. I have nothing to lose, I just want to enjoy I’m in New York”. Halep said.